What’s Right About the Church (Part 1)
If there is anything the church (and by “the church” I mean individual, local churches) does not need, it is negative press. Don’t get me wrong. We deserve a lot of the negativity we receive. There are churches and pastors who are only concerned about the money. There is scandal relating to inappropriate sexual relationships. Rather than showing love and compassion to many of the people who most need it, they only display antagonism. As long as the church is filled with and led by regular, everyday, imperfect people, there will be legitimate reasons for bad press.
We sometimes act as if this is a new phenomenon. Since the beginning of the institution we know as the church, it has been comprised of fallen individuals. Look back to the very beginning. Consider Peter. He was a traitor, a liar, and hot-tempered. We like to think that all ended by the Day of Pentecost. But even then, Peter hardly had it all together. After the Day of Pentecost, Peter became a preaching machine. He told anybody and everybody about the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That is, anybody and everybody who was Jewish. That’s right, Jews only. No gentiles. Turns out, Peter had some racial baggage. God had to give Peter a direct vision to convince him. All I am trying to say is the church has always been flawed. And it always will be.
One of the clearest examples of a flawed church has to be Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth. This church had problems. Big problems. This is a church that dealt with sins regarding disunity, greed, sexual sin, and inappropriate use of the Lord’s Supper (Communion) among other sins. Does any of this sound familiar. I am certain we can all think of churches that struggle with some of these issues today. Paul wrote this letter to help correct these problems.
One of the things that is interesting to me is that in spite of all the sin being tolerated or even celebrated in this church, Paul opened his letter with some very positive comments.
4 I always thank my God for you and for the gracious gifts he has given you, now that you belong to Christ Jesus. 5 Through him, God has enriched your church in every way—with all of your eloquent words and all of your knowledge. 6 This confirms that what I told you about Christ is true. 7 Now you have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. 8 He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns. 9 God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says, and he has invited you into partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:4-9 NLT)
In spite of all the things wrong with the church, Paul wanted to make sure they knew what was right about the church. Remember, Paul did not write this letter to an individual or even a group of individuals. He wrote it to a church. If these things are true of church like the one at Corinth, it is equally true of this church or any other. There are five specific things I want to point out from this paragraph. These five things are what is right about the church.
The church belongs to Christ
The church is enriched by God
The church has everything it needs, including spiritual gifts
God will keep the church strong
God is faithful to the church
While I am currently refining my thoughts about this, it will be the basic outline of our sermon/lesson this Sunday at Lifegate Church. Over the next few days I will try to post some thoughts about each of these points. If you are in the Tyler area and would like to hear my thoughts on this in person, you are welcome to come visit us at Lifegate Church.
Do you have any thoughts on this topic? Is there other information that would be helpful as I introduce this topic? Please comment below and thanks for your help!